2011 Buick Regal flex-fuel badge

2011 Buick Regal flex-fuel badge

The best non-news of the day comes from Buick: the 2011 Buick Regal Turbo is flex-fuel capable, meaning it can run on either E85 or gasoline. We're not terribly excited (E85 still isn't all that common in most places), but we are looking forward to the first pure ethanol tune.

The E85 capability means that, with typical production-car overhead, the fuel injectors may have enough flow rate left over to handle pure ethanol. The fuel system should certainly be capable. And while big fat drag slicks on a wrong-wheel-drive car aren't that exciting, it could turn the Regal Turbo into a bit more of the car we wish it had been.

Buick hasn't announced any power or fuel efficiency figures for the Turbo when running on E85, but we'd expect output to remain about the same, and efficiency to drop by about 20-30 percent, as E85 contains less energy than pure gasoline (or the E10 we find in most pumps these days).

GM is calling the Regal Turbo the "first direct-injected turbocharged production car capable of running on any blend of gasoline or E85 ethanol," for whatever that's worth. Hit page two for the official announcement.

Buick Regal Turbo Gets Industry-First Turbo Direct-Injected Engine with Flex-Fuel Capability


PONTIAC, Mich – The 2011 Buick Regal Turbo is the first direct-injected turbocharged production car capable of running on any blend of gasoline or E85 ethanol, joining more than 5 million flex-fuel models General Motors has produced over the last 15 years.

The turbocharged Ecotec 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine that powers the Regal will help GM reach its goal of offering more than 50 percent of its production in flex-fuel models by the end of 2012.

Attendees at the National Ethanol Conference in Phoenix will have the opportunity to drive the Regal and the flex-fuel GMC Terrain during conference breaks today.

Compared to earlier versions of the 2.0-liter Ecotec turbo, GM powertrain engineers have significantly upgraded the new engine to accommodate both E85 and to incorporate refinements.
Since ethanol requires a richer air-fuel mixture than gasoline, flex-fuel engines need higher flow-rate injectors.  However, a flex-fuel engine can potentially have any combination of gasoline or up to 85 percent ethanol in the tank, so a sensor in the fuel system measures the blend in real-time.  This allows the engine management system to automatically adjust the mixture to provide improved performance and reduced emissions and fuel consumption.  Stainless steel fuel lines provide extra corrosion resistance to ensure that the Regal Turbo meets GM’s stringent durability requirements.

In the past, improving power output and reducing fuel consumption and emissions were often conflicting goals. By delivering fuel directly to the combustion chamber, the high-pressure injectors can now provide a more precise mixture for optimum combustion.

Turbochargers use the energy in the hot exhaust gas flow to drive a compressor that forces more air into the combustion chamber for on-demand power delivery. The twin-scroll turbocharger on the Ecotec engine provides two inlet paths to the turbine to maximize the kinetic and thermal energy delivered to the turbine.

“Lag and reduced vehicle launch response is one of the age-old concerns with previous turbo engines” said Ecotec chief engineer Mike Anderson.

“Drivers would step on the gas to accelerate and then have to wait for boost and power to be generated,” he said. “The twin-scroll turbocharger helps the engine generate power and torque when the driver needs it for passing maneuvers or merging onto a highway even at low engine speeds.”

The 2.0-liter Ecotec turbo produces 258 pound-feet of torque from 2,000 to 5,500 rpm making it feel like a much-larger V6 engine while still delivering four-cylinder efficiency.”

Other changes to the turbo engine for 2011 go well beyond the addition of flex-fuel capability.  The 2.0-liter Ecotec turbo has a new precision sand cast aluminum cylinder block that provides better durability while transmitting less noise and vibration than lost foam casting used previously.

The end result is a quieter and more refined power plant that helps the Regal achieve best-in-class levels of noise, vibration and harshness while delivering the performance expected of the best import sport sedans and the ability to operate on current and next-generation renewable biofuels.